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Tony Boselli: "The thing I loved the most about the game was the team and the teammates"


By Jim Gehman, Engagement Insider

A consensus All-America offensive tackle at USC, did you feel added pressure being the first player ever drafted by the then-expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995?

"I felt pressure just being the second overall pick in the draft, whether it was the Jaguars or wherever I went. Only because I felt that I wanted to prove and justify the pick they used and the amount of money they were going to pay me. My biggest fear and I probably shouldn't have worried about it, but I did, you don't want to be a bust. You don't want to fall short of what their expectations are."

Did you take the role as the face of the franchise and run with it?

"It's funny, I never really thought about it. My concern always was trying to play the best I possibly could. But I think playing at a high level and being that first pick, that combination kind of put me in that position.

"But it wasn't just me. Mark Brunell was a good player, he was the quarterback. He was very popular. (Wide receivers) Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell, they were popular. So there were a number of us that really kind of played that role for different reasons."

Unfortunately, your career was cut short after seven seasons on the field and one on the sideline because of a shoulder injury. Was that initially hard to accept?

"It's still hard to accept. I wanted to play longer. I loved the game. And I felt like a number of years, maybe as many as seven or eight were taken away from me. 

"But at the same time, whenever I get too down or dwell on that too much, I think the other side of it. If God would have tapped me on the shoulder when I was a senior in high school and said, 'Listen, I'm going to let you have success at USC. You're going to be the first pick of an organization. And you're going to play eight years in the NFL, seven of them actually playing. But then your career's going to be over. Do you want that or not?'

"I'd say, 'I'll take that all day long.' It's all about perspective. It hurts that it ended that way and I couldn't go out on my own or play more years. It still bothers me to this day, but it's part of the game and I'm thankful for what I got to do." 

A three-time All-Pro, five Pro Bowls, and on the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1990s. What makes you most proud of your career?

"I was very fortunate. Those were all huge accomplishments and they're nice, but really, I think the thing I loved the most about the game was the team and the teammates and Sundays. Going out there and competing and having a chance in the playoffs, and playing in big games.

"I look back and miss it a lot, that competitiveness and trying to be your best and being to be the best on the field that day. The awards and all the different things that I was fortunate enough to be recognized with, I'm not going to say those weren't nice things and that they weren't important to me, but those weren't the highlights of my career." 

Have you given any thought about some day being enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

"Just when it comes around and I'll get asked about it. I make the semi-final or whatever that initial list is. But it's a long way between that and making it into the Hall of Fame.

"Whether I get in or I don't, what I did on the field doesn't change. So I try not to worry about it too much. If it happens it will be a great honor and I will be blown away. My family will be excited. I'll enjoy and embrace the entire event and every moment of it. And it will be something I'll be for the rest of my life. If it doesn't happen though, I'm going to be okay. I'll still push to be successful at whatever I do."

And what are you doing?

"I work with the Jaguars. I do their game day radio and work with them throughout the year in different capacities. But the main one is the radio (as a color analyst).          

"My wife, Angi, and I have our foundation []. We have two after-school programs. We work with 100 kids every day in Jacksonville. I have a consulting business with my partner, Susie Wiles, called Right Coast Strategies [].

"And two years ago I started a health care company. It's called Healthy Schools []. We provide vaccinations, primarily flu vaccinations and other health services to kids in a school setting. We're in Florida and Texas."

What do you enjoy about broadcasting games for the Jaguars?

"I love the game of football. I know a lot of guys say it goes away, but it hasn't gone away for me. Every Sunday when I go to a game I want to play. I love being around it. I love talking about it. And broadcasting it is the closest I can be to being a part of the game without playing it or without being on the coaching staff."

With the Boselli Foundation, how important is it for you and Angi to give back to the community?

"It's very important. We believe in giving back with our time and our energy and our resources both through our foundation and through our church. We love Jacksonville and the North Florida area. This is our home so we want to try to make it better."

In a sense, is the foundation and the health care company your Super Bowl championship?

"No. [Laughs] They're great things and I love the foundation and I love the business I'm doing, Healthy Schools, it's a lot of fun. And I love broadcasting. I love everything I do, but it doesn't compare to playing on Sundays in the NFL."

What's the best thing about being Tony Boselli today?

"That Angi Boselli is still married to me."

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